Routine Equals Freedom

Sardine and toastJocko Willink says “Discipline equals freedom”. It’s the idea that in order to get what you want out of life, you have to have the discipline to make it happen. Do you want more free time? Quit wasting time surfing YouTube. Do you want financial freedom? Then practice discipline in your spending and saving habits.

Discipline equals freedom.

I’ve also come to a place where I believe that routine equals freedom. This is nothing new, but I’ve discovered that the more regularly practiced routines I put in place, the more it frees my mind and my time to spend energy on more important things.

Meal Prep

Meal prep is a perfect example. I’m the first person in my house to get up in the morning, so I get a front row seat to observe everyone else’s morning habits. As each kid walks through the kitchen, the first thing I hear is, “what do we have for breakfast?”. I outline the available choices and watch them wrestle with the options. We replay this scene at lunch and dinner.

Every day. EVERY DAY. Every day I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast – Breakfast begins with a shake: A handful of spinach, half cup blueberries, half cup strawberries, half a banana, half cup yogurt, half cup water, half cup Kroger Carbmaster chocolate milk, plus supplements. Next, I eat a half an avocado, a handful of walnuts, and a sardine spread across a half piece of toast, buttered with Kerrygold butter.

Every day.

Lunch – Lunch is just as eclectic. A handful of almonds, a boiled egg, a handful of Parmesan cheese snacks (from Costco, ), a piece of fruit (apple or orange), and on workout days, a couple of Banana-Rama Figgy Pops from Made In Nature (for needed carbs).

Every day.

The Value of Routine

Having two major meals planned frees me from the time and stress of wondering what to eat. It frees me from the expense of going out because I don’t have what I need on hand. It frees me from the worry of eating healthy because I’ve made sure that my meals have all my bases covered as far as protein, carbs and fats. It frees my body from the discomfort that comes from eating something impulsively that will make me feel bad later.

My routine gives me freedom in the same way that having the discipline to stick to the routine gives me freedom.

The Freedom to Break Routine

It might sound boring, but it doesn’t have to be. I like my routine, but I’m not a slave to my routine. After all, slavery does not equal freedom (duh!). If I want to have breakfast with one of my kids, then I do. If I want to go out to eat lunch at a funky restaurant with my wife on Saturday, I do. My weekly routine of healthy eating gives me the bandwidth – the freedom – to go off track when the occasion calls for it.

More Routine

There are a couple of areas in my life I want to add routines, but haven’t quite yet:

  • Clothing – Steve Jobs famously wore the same black shirt and blue jeans every day. I’m sure it was because eliminating the decision streamlined his day. I would love to buy a closet full of the same blue jeans and t-shirts (same brand and type, but perhaps different colors) to wear every day. The difficulty is the initial financial outlay of replacing my wardrobe at one time. But this will happen.
  • Workplace – I’m a virtual worker. Supposedly technology allows me to work from anywhere, but this isn’t true. The comings and goings in my busy household offer too many distractions to be truly productive. I have a list of favorite coffee shops, but because I don’t have control over the environment, actual “work” is hit or miss. Example: yesterday I visited a shop only to find that their grinder was broken and the WiFi was out after I had already completely unpacked my bag and plugged in all my equipment. I had to pack everything up and head to another shop. I again unpacked my gear and opened my laptop, when a friend walked in, saw me, and plopped himself down next to me and began talking. ZERO productivity. Knowing exactly where I’ll be working every day would eliminate a huge amount of decision making from my day.

What about you?

I have some other pretty specific routines in place. I’ve documented my morning routine in my post “My Morning Routine“. My bedtime routine is detailed in “The Secret To A Good Night’s Sleep“.

What routines have you put in place that you’ve found give you the freedom to achieve more every day? What do you struggle with in implementing routines? Tell us in the comments, below.

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